Ilkka Kokkarinnen has said his farewell to blogging. He has done the right thing by deleting all his posts, adding a stub post, and keeping the URL. It is sad, but it is not the tragic event portrayed by some of the commenters. It is also not a sign of a vast political conspiracy, nor is it a valid reason for political outrage.
I admit that I read and write blogs purely for entertainment. It is an error to politicize them by exaggerating the importance of any particular one. For that matter, it is an error to exaggerate the importance of blogging itself. It’s basically just textual self-gratification that you are inviting everyone else to look at.
Everything that I found was just mediocre and banal, even those that I thought were somehow deep and intelligent. Of course, the whole thing is a deranged product of an unconstrained id, and I am only deeply ashamed of it, hoping it to vanish to static as soon as possible from hurting any more people.
Is this authentic self-reflection, a sarcastic prank, or meek submission to jackbooted feminazis? Ilkka was well known for his ironic wit. But he was also known for his unselfconscious honesty and unflinching disdain for political correctness. And if it isn’t authentic, why remove all the old posts? Any reasonably intelligent writer will reflect on the quality and significance of his past writing and conclude that it is worthless as an expression of his present state of mind.
Any particular piece of writing may inform, convince, persuade, or entertain, but the act of writing is essentially expressive and selfish. This is why most of the millions of unedited pieces of writing in circulation around the world are fundamentally worthless: Like the rantings of drunks, they basically constitute the marginally coherent expressions of uninhibited and confused toddlers.
In order to have value for others, a piece of writing must have value for society itself, and this means it must be partially formed by an advocate for social norms, that is, an editor. Perhaps the “social norms” are the norms of anarcho-primitivism, James Joyce, or the alien Klaatu, but they are still norms. They impose a certain purpose and clarity that makes the writing relevant to someone other than the author and his psychologist.
Ilkka went on to effectively psychoanalyze himself and then kill off his blog persona:
I was just being angry against some amorphous imaginary enemy representing everything that’s wrong in my life and that doesn’t really even exist in a recognizable non-caricature form anywhere outside my head, in which I just mixed up one piece there and another there. I don’t think I ever saw them in the real world around me, and I wish I could remember how and why this madness even began a long, long time ago. But it sure will end right here, and for good.
If only every blogger could be so honest. In that spirit, I think that much of blogging and Web commenting is pointless.
Mick Hume writes about the recent brouhaha over the comments of the pope, as follows.
This bizarre ruckus over the words of a medieval monarch has turned into a revealing picture of the modern world. A world in which nobody, not even the leader of a major faith, is allowed to express a strong opinion without risking condemnation and demands for an apology.
As Hume goes on, he starts to generalize:
A world dominated by a victim mentality, in which groups with hyper-sensitive ‘outrage antennae’ are always on the lookout for the chance to claim that they have been offended, insulted or oppressed by the words of others.
This perfectly describes the reaction by homeschoolers to the recent opinion article by Kelley Coures in the Evansville (Indiana) Courier & Press. Much as I sympathize with his critics, the whole affair was pointless. He deliberately provoked his critics in order to portray them as idiots, but on the other hand, he ended up looking like a weasel. In the end, it made no difference one way or the other, except that next year when the issues come up in the Indiana legislature, there will probably be louder arguments about it.
At the end, Hume makes the best recommendation for us all:
Contrary to what has been suggested, freedom and civilisation are not at risk from a few over-publicised Islamic protests against the Pope. They could, however, be at risk from a culture that refuses to stand up for its own basic beliefs, such as freedom of speech and genuine tolerance – which involves tolerating (while arguing against) the expression of views you violently disagree with, not trying to silence them as ‘intolerant’ or offensive.
Let us have less victim politics, and more expressions of political conviction. Less striking of moral postures and demands for apologies or bans, and more taking a stand for what you believe and fighting your corner.
That’s good to keep in mind the next time we endure a media uproar over inflammatory comments by political pundits, opinion columnists, bloggers, talk show hosts, or politically correct thought police.